Kevin Parker is on the phone from a tour bus. It’s parked outside a venue – the only trouble is he’s not entirely sure where...
Driving through the night, Tame Impala were taken direct from Olso to a location somewhere in Germany. Such is the life of a touring musician, though, one which is packed with loading out times, sound checks and an oblivious sense of geography. “At the moment I’m loving it” he reflects. “It’s really nice just to float around and not really enter one room more than once before heading off to the next. It’s kind of cool. I’m loving it at the moment but sometimes the pendulum can swing the other way and you’ll get sick of it”.
On the road to support new album ‘Lonerism’, Tame Impala are buoyed by the overwhelming acclaim lavished on their second full length. A sharp, concise blast of sun-fried psychedelia, it finds Kevin Parker embracing the sounds of the past with a very modern production sense. Seeming to exist in their own universe – one where time zones, decade splash against one another – the title spells out a new philosophy. “Making the idea of the loner into a lifestyle. Lonerism – it’s hard to describe” Parker admits. “I mean, with this album it’s more about trying to connect with people. It’s about connecting with other people – or trying. It’s not really about being alone, or even being happy about being alone. It’s about realising that you’re destined to be”.
Yet the album was written in a healthy creative environment. One of the most isolated major cities on the planet, Perth fosters tumultuous music scene where each artist seems to be in about five different bands. “It’s pretty cool” he admits. “Pretty open and pretty creative. There are heaps of people in different bands, I mean most of us are in different bands. It’s kind of just the way it happens. No one has their finger in just one pie. You definitely get inspired by the people around you, what they’re doing, definitely”.
Built up from very basic demos in his home studio, ‘Lonerism’ finds Kevin Parker brimming with confidence. Building on the artist success of their debut, the new album features a re-invigorated Tame Impala surging forward. “It happened pretty quickly, actually. I kind of realised what I missed out on with the album before so I was just excited to get back into it. It happened really naturally, it happened quite quickly. That was like two years ago, so I’ve been working on it since then”.
Often viewed as psychedelic revivalists, ‘Lonerism’ finds Tame Impala working within some very modern boundaries. “Usually if I’m in a house or if I have somewhere to stay I’ll set up my studio in one of the rooms. I just record onto Ableton and just go from there, really” he says. “Limitless possibilities. It was a revelation when I started using it. So much easier than how I’ve done it before. That’s just the way of modern recording, really – it’s so flexible”.
Draped in mind warping effects, Kevin Parker refuses to limit himself to just one epoch – even looking towards dance music as a source of inspiration. “With this one it, the electronic component was inherent to what I was doing because I was using synthesisers and Ableton and stuff. I guess that was more to do with the first album when I was into this idea of making really repetitive, hypnotic sounds - using organic instruments to make something which sounds like electronic music” he continues. !With the drums I was trying to make them sound like sampled drums, even though it’s someone playing naturally it was meant to have this real looped feel but still with the human qualities to it, the imperfection. With this album I still use a lot of digital effects, like Daft Punk style filter sweeps and stuff like that”.
However Kevin Parker is keen to emphasise the organic nature of his songwriting. “I guess you just have to make sure it’s you doing the inventing and not the machines, you know. It could just so easily become the matter of computers doing the thinking for you. Just relying on computers to do the thinking for you – you have to make sure it’s you doing the creating, I guess” the songwriter explains.
Probed about the revivalist tag, Kevin Parker seems entirely at ease with any accusation which might come his way. “It only frustrates me if I care about their opinion. Which is not often” he laughs. “I think enough people hear the modern component in it and realise that it doesn’t really sound like something from the 60s and 70s. I don’t know – I can’t think of any band from the 60s who really accurately sound like Tame Impala. It gives people that feel – there’s something in the vibe or the grooves or melodies which remind them of that. Obviously I wouldn’t say that’s it’s bound in those limits”.
Always keen to explore new project, Kevin Parker recently assisted on the production desk for the debut LP from Melody’s Echo Chamber.It’s really valuable. Looking ahead, the singer admits that solo projects remain a possibility. “I haven’t for a long time because I’ve been totally consumed in every way by this Tame Impala album. I think I probably will mix the new Pond album which is going to be fun. I’ll probably be doing that and some other stuff, I’m sure things will come up. There are always things to do in Perth, always bands to join and play with”.
Despite the band’s exhausting schedule, it seems that Kevin Parker will able to get home sooner than he realises. “We go straight to American from wherever we finish up here. Then we spend a few weeks in America and then either I’ll go to France or Perth. I guess I’ll go straight home after the American tour, actually” he muses. “Thing is, I have no home at the moment so I’ll have to sleep on my manager’s couch or find a home – either one”.
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'Lonerism' is out now.
Tame Impala are set to play the following shows:
30 London Brixton Academy
1 Manchester Ritz
2 Sheffield Leadmill
3 Glasgow ABC
Click here to buy tickets for Tame Impala!